Prevent Wandering, Part II

prevent-wandering-logo“Not all those who wander are lost”. This line taken from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien has become famous in itself and seems appropriate when thinking of our senior loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease and their family. Wandering is one of the potential symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and is a very serious issue that should not be taken lightly. This is the second Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis article focusing on the prevention of wandering, click here to find the first article in this series as well as many other articles related to senior safety and health.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that may take those who are diagnosed with it to a different time and place. Wandering is very common as people can become confused about their location and wander or get lost while searching for something, at any stage of Alzheimer’s, even the very early stages of dementia. Typically, those who wander are trying to get to a familiar destination with a specific purpose in mind. To the person who is wandering, they are not lost at all, but instead on a mission.

Watch this touching video about a man with a special mission in mind.

Continuing their effort to bring awareness of important topics that affect the seniors in our Minneapolis communities, such as the risk of our seniors continuing to drive past a safe age and the Sunday Dinner Pledge, Home Instead Senior Care has introduced their latest public education program, Prevent Wandering. This program is full of valuable resources and tips to help family caregivers manage this common issue.

To a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, once familiar territory can suddenly feel foreign and the individual may walk away in search of the place they are looking for. There are many factors, such as fatigue or overstimulation, that can trigger a wandering episode. Taking proactive steps to safeguard the home and reduce the risk of wandering will help families be prepared if a wandering incident occurs.

Quick Tips to Reduce the Risk of Wandering:

  • Paint doors and door frames the same color as the walls to camouflage the exits
  • Use alarms to alert you when a loved one is on the move
  • Install doorknob safety covers
  • Create pathways to steer clear of wandering opportunities

missing_senior_networkTo help ease the stress and fear for families and the loved ones they care for, Home Instead Senior Care provides a free service called Missing Senior Network, which allows you to alert a personalized list of contacts if your loved one wanders or goes missing. This amazing service is part of the Prevent Wandering public education campaign and allows you to set up a private network including relatives, friends, and nearby businesses to help locate your senior loved one quickly when he or she wanders away. To learn more and sign up for the Missing Senior Network service, visit the website today! There are many other tips and services available, learn more about each one by visiting the helpful website where you can also find personal experience and tips from readers.

Learning of a loved one’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia is scary. Educating yourself and being prepared for the behaviors that can result will not only help the individual living with Alzheimer’s, but also help the family cope with the disease diagnosis and keep your senior loved ones safe in their home. There are many resources available for Alzheimer’s family caregivers. Learn more about these resources, such as the Home Instead Senior Care Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program, by visiting this resource page.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provides services such as companionship, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, as well as support for the family caregivers, to ensure the protection of dignity of the aging senior receiving care. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is a local business offering friendly, responsive care right in your Minneapolis, Minnesota community. To inquire about any of our senior services or becoming a CAREGiver, call us at 763-544-5988 today.

Angels on Earth: 2016 Be a Santa to a Senior

bastas2015-1Although our Minnesota weather may not admit it, it’s time to kick off the 2016 Be a Santa to a Senior® program! Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is proud to announce we will set up trees around the Minneapolis area and ensure seniors who are alone or in need receive a gift this holiday season. As once described by a senior who has received a gift from us, the Be a Santa to a Senior® program “shows there are angels on earth!” Join us in our movement once again this year to ensure seniors feel the love and be a part of our campaign.

This program targets seniors in our community who may not otherwise receive gifts or visits from family during the holidays and was first launched by our parent organization in 2003. Partnering with local non-profit and community organizations, Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis identifies seniors who perhaps live alone, do not have family members nearby, or are experiencing financial difficulties and ensures they receive a little TLC during the holidays.

Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for older adults. The Minneapolis, Minnesota Home Instead office has partnered with local non-profits such as East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels, low income housing, and several nursing homes to offer gifts and companionship to seniors in need.

You can help us brighten a senior’s life too! Home Instead Minneapolis will set up the gift trees beginning November 14th in the local businesses and retail stores that are partnering with us. The participation of the busy retail stores allows for great visibility of the program and provides a convenient way for shoppers to be part of the gift giving during the holiday season. Here’s how it works:

Head to any of the following locations:

senior_giftsLocate the Christmas tree decorated with ornament tags within the store. Select any ornament tag where you will find a senior’s name as well as gift suggestions printed on the tag. The next steps are to purchase the item(s) listed, place them in a gift bag, return to the store where the ornament tag was selected and deliver the gift to a store employee. We would also be delighted to take any donations of money or gift cards to ensure each gift wish is filled. To ensure timely delivery of all gifts, please return donations to the store by December 12th.

Since this amazing program began in 2003, there have been over 60,000 volunteers who have helped distribute over 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 deserving seniors nationwide. Join our movement and make a senior’s holiday special.

Home Instead Minneapolis is thrilled to partner with several local fire stations. Relief associations, retired and off-duty firefighters from Hopkins, Golden Valley, Wayzata, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park fire stations are volunteering their time by picking up and storing the gifts. Once the gifts are all collected, they will also help deliver the gifts to the nursing homes, assisted living and senior apartment facilities in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. THANK YOU once again to the firefighters, retired members as well as spouses and family members for being involved with our Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign! We could not pull this off without you! We appreciate your partnership and your volunteer time.

At this time of year, there are so many gift programs aimed at children and families in need, but we can’t forget the seniors! Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understands there are many seniors in our local communities who have just as much need for a gift and companionship during the holidays, so join us and make a difference in the life of a senior!

For more information or to find a participating organization near you, visit the Be a Santa to a Senior® website and use the locator tool provided.

Let’s Talk About Driving, Part II

LetsTalkAboutDrivingLogoCaregivers say it’s one of the thorniest conversations they will have. A family scenario that is becoming more and more common is when the adult children feel it is time for their aging parents to give up the car keys, but Mom and Dad have no intention of doing so. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis’ latest public education program, Let’s Talk About Driving, takes a deeper look into the increased risk of our seniors when they continue to drive past a safe age, especially during Minnesota’s harsh winters. It also offers helpful resources and tips to help their caregivers manage this sensitive subject.

According to research conducted by AAA, fatal crash rates increase beginning at age 75, per mile driven, and increase sharply after age 80. This is largely due to the increased risk of injury and medical complications with seniors, not an increased tendency to get into crashes. AAA also reports that in 2014, approximately 5,709 senior drivers were killed and 221,000 were injured in traffic accidents. These facts and others show alarming trends when our senior loved ones are on the road past an age where their ability to drive safely is compromised. Most older adults recognize their driving limitations and avoid situations that may put them or others at risk, but not all are willing to give up the keys so easily and that is where family members and caregivers need to step in.

To understand what it means to give up driving, it’s important to also understand what the privilege of driving means to a person. The ability to drive offers independence, control, pride and freedom for many seniors, but when their keys are taken away they will feel frustrated, depressed, defensive and helpless. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis offers resources to help with this difficult transition, such as:

  • Be prepared with new options – there are several senior ride program options, stores and pharmacies that deliver, or find a carpool schedule
  • Make it fun – public transportation can be a whole new adventure when the city bus or an Uber ride are a senior’s new way of getting about town
  • Think outside the box – encourage new activities that don’t require transportation like gardening or walking

thumbnail-4-misconceptionsHome Instead Senior Care Minneapolis first offered advice on the sensitive subject of our senior’s continued ability to drive safely in last month’s blog article by discussing some warning signs that may help you know that seniors may be unsafe on the road.  Situations such as confusing the gas and brake pedals, difficulty staying within the lanes, and driving the wrong speed are just a few things to look for. Learn information on these and other important warning signs by visiting While some seniors might not like the idea of giving up their driving privilege, others may consider it a relief and will welcome the idea.

4 Misconceptions About Giving up the Car

  1. Driving yourself is cheaper than paying for alternative transportation.
  2. Driving is more reliable; alternatives are less convenient.
  3. “I can’t give up the wheel. I’ve been driving my whole life!”
  4. “I won’t be able to go anywhere or see anyone!”

Read more about how to handle these typical senior responses.

The dedicated CAREGivers to our senior loved ones are often asked for assistance from the family members to help them navigate the often difficult conversation about this important issue. Home Instead’s CAREGivers can help by offering an objective voice when family members may disagree about a senior loved one’s driving future.

4 Ways to Help Families Navigate Senior Driving Concerns

  • Encourage families to learn the facts first and then decide the best course of action
  • Recommend the CarFit program
  • Discuss conversation starters and strategies for a talk with an older adult
  • Encourage families to put a plan in place before taking away the car keys

Using the above mentioned Let’s Talk About Driving program resources Home Instead Senior Care offers, as well as the Safe Driving Planner families and caregivers can help the seniors make this a smooth transition.

Five Vehicle Technologies for Keeping Seniors Safer on the Road

  1. Smart Headlights
  2. Emergency Response Systems
  3. Blind Spot Warning Systems
  4. Assistive Parking Systems
  5. Drowsy Driver Alerts:

Read more about these assistive technologies recommended by Hartford Funds and MIT AgeLab.

Proud to help bring awareness of important topics that affect the seniors in our Minneapolis, Minnesota communities, Home Instead Senior Care has launched many other informative public education programs such as:

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provides services such as transportation and supports the caregivers to ensure the protection of dignity of the aging senior receiving care. Unlike some senior transportation services that just offer door-to-door service, our professional CAREGivers make sure they get all the way inside, provide any assistance required at the destination and return them home safely. Companionship, dementia and Alzheimer’s care and other services are also available. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is a local business offering friendly, responsive care right in your Minneapolis, Minnesota community.

To inquire about senior services, call us at 763-544-5988. Also, visit for more helpful information and let’s begin talking!

10 Warning Signs a Senior’s Nutrition is in Danger

Spaghetti all' arrabbiata
Image via Wikipedia

Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis promotes the well-being of seniors living at home. As we shared in our Senior Mealtime Challenges blog post, senior mealtimes can be difficult due to cooking for one, eating alone and a lowered appetite. And the result of these challenges can be that important nutritional needs are not met. In this post, we provide 10 things to consider to help you assess whether a senior’s nutritional profile needs some help.

1. Depression.

Living and dining alone can be a lonely experience to the point of causing depression. Not only that, but poor nutrition can lead to depression as well.

Tips: Create routine ways for the senior to have companionship in general and to take part in congregational meals. These can be Sunday night dinners with family, senior centers, senior day care services, or church events.

2. Lack of appetite.

A number of things can impact appetite, including medications, depression and lack of exercise.

Tips: Consult with the senior’s physicians to determine if medications are impacting a desire for food. And be sure to factor in an exercise routine that is within the senior’s capabilities. Ideas include regular walks or a senior fitness class at your local senior center.

3. Scarcity of nutritious items in the pantry and refrigerator.

According to studies, nearly half of seniors who live alone do not consume enough fresh fruits or vegetables or milk products.

Tips: Shop together with the senior to choose fresh healthy items from the produce aisle or a local farmer’s market. Find a cookbook that provides simple food preparation recipes.

4. Illness.

Not only can illness cause poor appetite, but declining health and illness can be worsened by poor nutrition. So it is very important to think through the senior’s diet and find healthy foods the senior will enjoy.

Tips: Browse a picture-rich healthy cookbook together with the senior on a regular basis. Plan meals around dishes that are both nutritious and enticing to the senior. Making enough so that you can create easy warm-up containers is a great idea too.

5. Physical limitations.

One fourth of elderly people living alone cannot regularly get to the store to shop for themselves or prepare the food at home. Injuries and physical limitations can prevent seniors from getting nutritious food from the grocery to the table.

Tips: There are many ways to address this issue, including:

  • Arranging Meals on Wheels
  • Soliciting help from family members to help shop and prepare nutritious meals
  • Hiring companion care.

Contact our Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis office to learn more. We can help you sort out the options and determine whether it’s time to bring in outside help.

6. Outdated foods and a smelly refrigerator.

Food that has expired or is going bad can not only lose any nutritional value it once had, but it can be dangerous too.

Tips: Check for spoiled foods, items with expired dates and stored food that has not been closed up or packaged properly in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Label all perishables with clearly written labels and dates.

US Nutritional Fact Label

7. A grocery list lacking in nutritious items.

If you are shopping for a senior, carefully check the shopping list.  If the list is heavy on the simple carbs and non-nutritious foods, it needs an overhaul!

Tips: Make sure the list includes a balance of healthy items including protein foods, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and cereals.

8. Weight fluctuations or poor skin health.

Is the senior gaining or dropping weight? Have you noticed a change in skin tone? Sagging skin that does not look well hydrated or a change of 10 pounds or more in a six month period could signal trouble.

Tips: Schedule regular checkups with the physician to check blood sugar, weight, hydration and other signs of vital health.

9. An empty cupboard.

Events such as power outages and storms can trap a senior at home for an extended period.

Tips: Be sure the senior is stocked up with some shelf-stable meals or drinkable nutrition such as Ensure® in case it is not possible to get to the store.

10. Isolation.

Being alone for extended periods is one of the biggest threats to aging adults, especially those with physical limitations, memory challenges, mental health issues or depression.

Tips: Create a support network of family and friends who can help the senior on a schedule with outings, exercise, companionship visits, shopping, cooking and community or church involvement.